Double KOs in Street Fighter have existed since SF1. Deciding what happens in such an event has changed over time for different reasons. Here is a quick summary of its evolution (note that double time-outs are also treated as double KOs except for one particular case in SF3):
- SF1: No victories awarded for double KOs. If a double KO occurs in the 3rd round and the score is 0-0 or 1-1, then it’s game over for both players (draw game). However, if the score is 1-0 (or 0-1), then the player with that single victory will win the match.
- SF2 World Warrior: No victories awarded for double KOs. The game will keep going until someone reaches two victories. If no one has reached two victories by the end of the 9th round, then a 10th round (also called final round) is played as sudden death. In order to do that, the game sets the score to 1-1 at the beginning of the 10th round regardless of what the score was at that moment. Another double KO in that last round would mean game over for both players (draw game).
- SF2 CE/HF/NC/ST and SF Alpha: No victories are awarded for double KOs. If no one reached two victories by the end of the 3rd round, then a 4th round (also called final round) is played as sudden death. In order to do that, the game sets the score to 1-1 at the beginning of the 4th round regardless of what the score was at that moment. Another double KO in that last round would mean game over for both players (draw game).
- SF3, SF4 and SF5: Victories are awarded to both players for double KOs. The decisive round is always the 3rd round (also called final round). If a double KO occurs in the final round with an even score (1-1), then it’s game over for both players (draw game). Example: SF4 Daigo vs Justin exhibition 2010.
The “judgment” experiment
SF3 is the only version where Capcom tried a judgment system to pick a winner in certain double KO situations. The judgment system will only be used for double KOs in the final round with an even score (1-1) or double time-outs in any round. Otherwise, a victory is given to each player similarly to how it works in SF4 and SF5.
In theory, the judgment system chooses the winner based on some sort of performance parameters of the match. But some say it’s actually random. Example: SF3 Ricky Ortiz vs Daigo 2003.
The small difference that messed it all up
There is no perfect logic solution for double KO situations that would please everyone. The solutions in SF1, SF3, SF4 and SF5 can lead to some funny situations where a player gets a match victory even if he had won only one round for instance.
One could say that in SF2 and SF Alpha, the solutions are even “worse” than the other versions since you get more odd situations. The main reason behind it is that the score of the final round is forced to be 1-1. The easier way to explain this is by looking at the following examples:
1 – The meaningless round
If you get double KO both in the first and the second round, then the third round will start with no victories on either side. What happens in that third round doesn’t matter since the 4th and final round will be set to 1-1 either way. You can see an example in the following weekly tournament in Japan where Shino Honda and Nakajima Honda just mess around in the 3rd round knowing there is really no point playing it. (minute 47:00)
The format of the tournament is a “Winner Stays On” type with a final playoff between those who got the most consecutive wins. Surprisingly, they ALSO get a double KO in the final round so both players lose.
2 – The undeserved victory
Let’s review what happens in the following video between Afro Legends (Boxer) and Alex Wolfe (Dhalsim) (minute 3:42). Afro Legends wins the first round (1-0), then a double KO occurs in the 2nd round, and another one in the 3rd round. At that moment, the score is still 1-0. But in the 4th round (sudden death round), the game forces the score to be 1-1. At 4:31, Seth Killian says “And notice that Dhalsim has got a round for free even though he hasn’t won”. In the final round, Afro Legends wins so the final score is 2-1.
3 – The unfair aftermath
In the previous example Afro Legends wins both the 1st and the 4th round to have a final score of 2-1 in his favor. However, let’s imagine that Alex Wolfe had been able to win that 4th round. Then the winner of the match would have been him with a final score of 1-2. If you do the math, both Afro Legends and Alex would win one round each. But Alex would be the winner for having taken that last sudden death which one could argue is an unfair outcome.
What to do in a draw match
When the game considers that it’s game over for both players, then you can say it’s a draw game with no winners. However, depending on the context, the outcome of the match can be different for every situation. Some examples are:
- Exhibition match: The match is usually considered a draw.
- Online ranked match: Both players lose some points (some people have reported that only the player with a higher rank does).
- Team battle: Both players lose. And the next person on each team take over.
- Tournament bracket: The match has to be played again. For example, the following video where RenoMD and Rakanishu have a double KO in both the third round and the final round (minute 3:08:11).